EU chief negotiator "kills off" PM May's soft Brexit plan: media
LONDON, July 26 (Xinhua) -- Britain's newly appointed Brexit secretary Dominic Raab insisted Thursday that Prime Minister Theresa May's latest white paper on a new trading relation with the European Union has brought a new dynamic in negotiations with Brussels.
But Britain's national newspapers following a meeting in Brussels between Raab and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier took a more pessimistic view of the latest round of talks.
Raab and Barnier faced the media at the end of three days of negotiations over Brexit between Britain and the EU.
The Daily Telegraph in London commented Thursday night that Barnier had killed off May's Brexit customs plan and vowed the EU will never accept it.
The Telegraph's Brussels correspondent said Barnier refused to accept that Britain had "evolved its position" and he offered no concessions in return for May's soft Brexit plan, which led to the resignations of Raab's predecessor David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Instead, Barnier said Britain could still join a customs union, which would mean Britain could not make its own trade deals after Brexit.
That comment is at odds with the British government's statements that during a 21-month implementation period after Britain ends its membership of the bloc next March, it will be free to make trade deals with countries around the world.
"The UK wants to take back control of its money, law and borders. We will respect that. But the EU also wants to keep control of its money, law and borders. And the UK should respect that," Barnier said in Brussels.
British government ministers are currently touring EU member states to win support for May's Brexit plans.
The Guardian in London took a similar view on the Brussels meeting, headlining their report: "Michel Barnier kills off Theresa May's Brexit customs proposals"
It commented that Barnier warned that attempts by British government ministers to appeal to EU leaders over his head were a waste of time as he rejected May's proposals on customs after Brexit, in effect killing off her plan.
"Anyone who wants to find a sliver of difference between my mandate and what the heads of government say they want are wasting their time, quite frankly," Barnier said.
The Guardian commented that impasse in the negotiations was laid bare in the press conference in the European commission's Berlaymont headquarters as a thunderstorm broke outside.
"While Raab insisted that with political will a deal on trade and on avoiding a border on the island of Ireland was achievable by a crunch summit in October, Barnier offered a damning verdict on a major element of the UK's vision of the future," the Guardian said.
Barnier struck a warmer note during the press conference saying he was "particularly pleased" with the progress of talks on foreign policy and security, before adding: "On our future economic relationship, it comes as no surprise that finding common ground between the EU27 (the remaining member states of the EU) and the UK is more difficult."
Raab said during what was his second meeting with Barnier after his appointment by May, that agreements had been reached this week with EU negotiators on a number of issues.
But he agreed both sides still needed to complete a protocol on Northern Ireland and Ireland.
"With pragmatism on both sides I am confident we can find a way to resolve it into a workable solution," Raab said.
Raab said Britain has designed its future trading relationship proposals both to respect the result of the EU referendum, and the core principles of the EU.
"In sum, the UK has set out our plans in detail. Those plans are ambitious, principled and pragmatic.," insisted Raab.
Raab said he and Barnier had agreed to more talks in mid-August and then to continue weekly discussions to clear away all the obstacles that line the path to a strong UK-EU deal in October.